Edinburgh Fringe 2010
From the green fields of Poland to the cold streets of Inverness, Matthew Zajac tells the story of his father’s journey from Eastern Europe pre-war to Northern Scotland post-war, and makes some incredible discoveries along the way.
The toast of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008, Matthew Zajac has brought his charming show The Tailor of Inverness to the Underbelly’s Cow Barn this year. The show charts the fascinating journey Zajac’s father went on during the war – a journey which forced him to leave Poland and led him to England and onto Scotland, eventually founding a successful tailoring business in Inverness.
Using a mix of storytelling and physical theatre, Zajac is certainly a compelling onstage presence, and he tells the story with energy and skill. Adding to the magic of the show is the onstage violinist, who sitting at the side of the stage is entirely unobtrusive, yet underpins and accentuates every moment of the piece with his haunting notes.
As well as telling the ‘story’ of his father, the piece is also a reflection on truth and deceit. As Zajac became interested in his father’s past he began to question the stories his father had told him about his homeland in Poland and his experiences during the war. He seamlessly weaves these investigations into his story, and with the help of some subtle and basic projections, spins some alternative truths, just as valid, just as unsubstantiated, just as interesting.
The ending was surprising and wonderful. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say it brought a tear to my eye – a rare event for me in the theatre!
This was a poignant and well performed show – the musical accompaniment set it apart from other one man shows, and the subject matter, though documented in films and resonant of the Jonathan Safran Foer book ‘Everything is Illuminated’ was original and told stories of soldiers’ experiences on the Eastern Front, seldom depicted onstage or elsewhere.